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Road's End - Begin


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#61 Sir_Muffonious

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:13 AM

The troll was wounded, but there was nothing wrong with its legs. The beast took massive strides, moving at twice the speed as the battered Karrel. The swamp's waters were in sight, and soon this chase and the ensuing battle would become far more problematic. The troll suddenly stopped its flight, lowered its body and looked ahead, snarling. Cradoc Storm-hand stood between it and escape. He let loose a feral battle cry and charged at the troll with his sword gripped in both hands, as frightening as the beast itself.

From a nearby tree, Som was the first to spot the battle below. He whistled loudly to alert Kurtz and Aos Si, who started running between the trees to reach his position. Kurtz caught sight of the engagement as they neared. "Circle around to the other side," he hissed at Aos Si, his feet still moving swiftly. "Quickly!"

The swamp troll was now caught, with Cradoc in front, Karrel in back, Kurtz and Aos Si coming in on different sides, and Som in the trees. It didn't seem too aware. Terin was still unconscious under its arm, so with no other way to stop the charging berserker in front of it, the troll hurled the boy at Cradoc. The bodies collided and both fell to the ground in a pile.

The troll spotted Kurtz coming from the side and moved to intercept him, though the warrior's precise slashes with longsword in hand kept the beast tame for a moment. When it saw an opening in the flurry of strikes, it smacked the very blade out of Kurtz's hand. The man looked incredulous, and maybe even a bit fearful, as he held his shield before him and began to back away, the troll looking to stomp through him and onward to freedom.

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#62 Horatius

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 04:47 AM

He wasn't going to catch it. The knowledge weighed in Karrel's heart like an anvil. The damned creature was too fast, even wounded and carrying the mage. Not just a mage, but Karrel's first true chance of discovering who gave him both freedom and a second chance.

Suddenly the creature slowed to a halt. Directly in its path stood just the man he most wanted to see: Cradoc. With a ferocious snarl, the man charged, only to be knocked aside by the mage's body. Kurtz was soon disarmed, and the troll was nearly free. Karrel burst through the trees and lifted his longaxe above his head. With a massive two-handed stroke he sent the blade to meet the beast's neck.

Then out spake brave Horatius,

The Captain of the Gate:

"To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late.

And how can man die better

Than facing fearful odds,

For the ashes of his fathers,

And the temples of his gods."

 


#63 Bobafettmaniac

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 11:14 AM

As Cradoc's berserkergang reached its pinnacle of energy and fervor, Cradoc leaped forward at the Troll with his sword held aloft by both hands...

...only to be swatted away by the body of a boy, thrown by the troll. Cradoc quickly lifted himself off the ground, hurling the unconscious body of the mage off him, and into a soft pile of wet, swamp brush. Picking his sword up off the ground, he launched himself again with a cry at the retreating troll, with a slash aimed at the troll's knees. This blow would hopefully disable the monster so that they could kill it with ease and enjoyment.

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#64 Sir_Muffonious

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 01:02 PM

Karrel's guillotine blow struck true, his axe becoming lodged in the back of the troll's neck with a grotesque, satisfying crunch. The beast froze on its feet, unable to move as Cradoc's slash cut into the back of its knees, dropping it to the ground. Karrel kept swinging, blood peppering his armor and face as the axe dug further into flesh and muscle and bone with each hack. The troll's head was soon removed, at which point it rolled across the forest floor and settled beneath the foot of Kurtz.

He kicked it lightly with the toe of his boot, as if to make sure the thing wouldn't try to bite him if he let his guard down. Satisfied, he turned away and started scanning the ground. "Would make a good trophy, if any of you are interested in that sort of thing." He crouched and came back up with his sword in hand, examining it by the faint glow of the swamp gases, perhaps looking for nicks in the blade or blood on its surface. He seemed disappointed, and returned it to its sheath. "Someone grab Terin and let's head back."

They returned to camp without incidence, though those who had remained behind nearly attacked them upon arrival. The camp remained silent and dark, still wary of the possibility of attracting goblins or other hostile creatures. Some attempted to awaken Terin while the rest of the group discussed their next options.

"A bit of rest would have been nice," Kurtz whispered, toying absent-mindedly in the dirt with a small twig that had made its way into the timber pile, "but we have to rethink our plans. As I said earlier, it makes little difference whether we enter the swamp during day or night - it'll be dark as the unholy pits either way. The troll and the signs of goblins this far out are troublesome and unexpected...perhaps they have something to do with this Aliser Holt business." He seemed to be entertaining his own musings, rather than speaking to the group as a whole. He looked up at them and said, "Camping here with a fire and a large group such as ours will likely keep the trolls and other wild beasts at bay, but it will attract goblins for sure. Continuing on into the swamp at night might allow us to slip by the goblins undetected, but we'll be more vulnerable to ambush by animals and trolls alike."

He would leave it to them to decide.

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#65 Surtur

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 04:43 AM

This whole ordeal was troublesome. A troll? A ferocious, bloodthirsty creature with no brains. Only brawn. It reminded Aos Si of some of his own group members. Circling around to the other side, as ordered by Kurtz, the druid decided to simply watch. Cradoc was knocked aside with the small body of Terin, and Kurtz had just been disarmed. As the troll neared his captain, Aos sighed, raising his arms towards the troll. Looks like he was going to have to use his Spiritual Magic out in plain sight for the group to see. Luckily for him, however, he didn't end up needing to.

Proving his idea earlier that his companions were no different from the brash and brutal troll, both Cradoc and Karrel charged at the troll with gruesomely powerful swings of their weapons. It made Aos think about how different he was than these two, never attacking directly, and never with a cold-steel weapon. His weapons were nature - being vines, roots, ground, and even water. While his nature magic couldn't cleave off the head of an enemy as his companions did, warcry erupting through the air probably alerting more goblins, Aos was content with his abilities. If these two warriors were here alone, without the minds of Kurtz and himself, they would get lost immediately and probably end up killing one another for food.

With the troll subdued, then beheaded, his work he was done. When Kurtz asked nobody in particular to bring Terin back to camp, Aos volunteered to be somewhat useful. Wrapping a vine around the boy's legs, Aos proceeded to drag him back to the camp on his arse. That's what he deserved for bringing trouble to the group by getting caught in the first place. Back at camp, Kurtz began to mumble, then addressed the group as a whole about their situation at-hand.

"Camping here with a fire and a large group such as ours will likely keep the trolls and other wild beasts at bay, but it will attract goblins for sure. Continuing on into the swamp at night might allow us to slip by the goblins undetected, but we'll be more vulnerable to ambush by animals and trolls alike."

"Let us move forward. We make no progress by sitting, and no rest if goblins attack anyways. I do not like to waste time." Aos wanted to get on with the journey. While he didn't care that he was in a swampy-forest land like the others did, he simply wanted to see if the quest was worth his time. This quest was to judge whether life had meaning, and so far, its meaning was "to die." Certainly seemed true enough with the bold tactics and idiocy running rampant through the group. Plus, he wanted to move on to avoid talking to the others. Jaysen tried to speak with him back on their walk to the camp, but the masked man simply ignored him. He had no business with him, and talking with an old man meant no gain for Aos.

#66 Prattitude

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 07:04 AM

"I agree with Aos," said Arthur after hearing the tale of trolls in the bog, "there is strength in numbers, and I'd much rather face down a troll or two together than a swarm of hungry goblins. I doubt I could get much sleep tonight anyway."

This was no time for idle chit chat, the group needed to make a decision and fast. In all honesty, his statement wasn't entirely true. A troll frightened him much more than a few goblins, but sitting idly by and waiting was not something his body was going to let him do. Arthur stood and kept his spear in his hand, ready to move out and take life if need be.

#67 Ryoma

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 09:06 AM

This was certainly a frying pan or fryer situation. Move on and get attacked by one thing, stay here and get attacked by another. Jaysen hated these odds. He always made sure that he took on challenges he was sure to overcome, where there was always a way for him to emerge on top. He may have been ready for death, but he was not going to die by troll or goblin hand.

The masked one spoke, and seemed to make the most sense. Jaysen nodded his head in acknowledgment "What he said," Jaysen stated, jabbing a thumb at the masked guy.

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#68 Sareth

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 10:04 AM

Lynaia was glad the others had made it back mostly unharmed, though Terin's unconsciousness worried her. Everyone was now discussing whether to cross the swamp now or wait for daylight. "Whichever is fine with me, now or in the morning," she spoke up. "If we go now I could provide some light to illuminate our way. Either way though, I first need to see to Terin's injuries."

With that said, she kneeled down by the limp form of Terin, her experienced hands gently examining his body to try and assess the nature of his injuries.
"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#69 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:06 PM

Kragnar was glad that the others were alright, or at least close to alright - but he frowned, Their first opportunity to camp and actually get to know each other. Now he really did want to kill something.

"Aye," he said gruffly, still holding his axe and shield at the ready and noticeably more grouchy than he'd ever been so far. "Let's jus' get movin'. No use stayin' here an' waitin' fer somethin' to try an' kill us again."

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#70 FearFiend

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 05:26 PM

Terin felt felt soft hands on him as he woke up, he slowly opened his and saw the face of the shadow elf kneeling over him. He blinked a few times and slowly sat up and felt extreme pain in his chest.

"What happened?" Terin said in a weak voice, "how did I get here?"

Terin starred at the shadow elf for a few seconds, just now noticing her beauty. He tried to stand up but was in to much pain

"arrhh," groaned Terin, clutching his wound on his torso. "what happened after i passed out?"
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#71 Horatius

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 02:50 AM

Karrel was grateful the ordeal was over, and yearned for the chance to speak with the mage. He had done his part in rescuing Terin from the troll, which would make the boy even more obligated to help him. If the mage was an honest man, which seemed unlikely by definition. The northman sat down at the camp and massaged his aching shoulders as much as he could. By Thor, that troll was strong!

He supported the group decision to move out with his silence, and pulled himself to his feet. Despite the toll the recent fight had taken on him, Karrel almost hoped for goblins. Hacking through the troll's head was satisfying, but nothing matched the vengeful delight of slaughtering goblins. It felt like justice and hatred bundled into a single axe-blow. Maybe one would even know where his elf-sword had come from. He had a skill for drawing information from reluctant prisoners.

Karrel walked beside Cradoc Storm-hand. "You were there just when I needed you. Together we slew that beast as true sons of Odin! In my clan, we would name you blade-brother. I know not how brave our other companions are, but I am glad to have you by my side."

Then out spake brave Horatius,

The Captain of the Gate:

"To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late.

And how can man die better

Than facing fearful odds,

For the ashes of his fathers,

And the temples of his gods."

 


#72 Sir_Muffonious

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 10:45 AM

The decision seemed unanimous. While everyone would have gladly slept had the circumstances been proper, the fear of a goblin assault combined with the concern that they might be wasting precious time, urging the party to speak out in protest of much-needed rest.

"Yes, it seems stopping here would only serve to delay us," Kurtz concluded. "If we are attacked by goblins in the night, we will be getting little rest anyway." He stood. "Gather your things, everybody. We're moving on."

Blekmyr Marsh was a living thing. It spoke in the croaks of frogs and the chirps of birds, disturbing eerie silences with the bubbling sound of gas erupting from its murky depths. With every step the party took, insects could be seen scurrying across the path and hopping among the reeds. Some could feel the weight of unseen toads landing on their boots, only to leap back into the grass in a heartbeat. Trees survived on land and in water, their branches reaching out and beckoning to the adventurers, come closer. Those who had seen the troll had the uncanny feeling of being watched, and eyed the trees suspiciously.

A dense cloud of blue-grey fog billowed up from the pools, wafting inwards to coalesce over the path the party traveled, as if to get them lost. More than once they had to halt and let the air settle before moving on under better visibility conditions. Pockets of swamp gas bubbled to the surface every few minutes, hissing so as to make some think that a monstrous creature might be rising from the water at any moment. The air was dense and warm with humidity, and felt as if it were sticking to the travelers' foreheads in thick coats. Worst of all was the smell, rot like a whole ecosystem had suddenly died and started to decay.

The party cut through the swamp via elevated land bridges that rose up out of the water and snaked through the trees. It helped them avoid the water as much as possible, though where dry land ended they sometimes had to wade through the muck to reach another island. The water was warm and pleasant, and rarely rose above the knees, although the mud went up to the ankles. There were pitfalls hidden beneath the surface, so that every now and then one of the travelers would step into one and fall into the water up to his or her neck, flailing and splashing madly. The party stuck together and members were quick to pull companions out of the muck when needed.

The bugs were having themselves a feast tonight. The adventurers would be lucky to have any fluids left in their bodies by the time they got out. They carefully checked each other for leeches after exiting the water, and frantically waved their hands in the air to keep the insects at bay. Dawn was breaking, and thin rays of orange sunlight began to pierce the canopy here and there, providing some dim illumination for the travels ahead.

The buzzing of the bugs was getting louder, though not necessarily more frequent. One could occasionally catch a glimpse of a large shape zipping between trees, or skimming the surface of the water. When they landed to rest on a nearby branch, the party saw with some horror that the creatures were giant insects, mosquitoes as big as fat tavern rats. At the moment they were keeping their distance, but the creatures were getting more common as the party delved deeper into the marsh.

They were wading through another pool when John stepped into a pit in the muck and tripped, splashing into the water. He was stumbling to his feet and looking for solid ground when the bugs made their move. One bold mosquito swooped down at John before being swatted viciously in passing. Several others followed its lead and made the clumsy man their target. With no armor, it was hardly an issue for one of the creatures to find an opening and strike.

With a sharp, thin proboscis it pierced John's shirt and stabbed deep into the meat on the back of his shoulder, calling to mind the pain of being stuck with a knife. It clung tightly to his clothing with its six skinny long legs, sucking the blood from the man so forcefully he could feel it leaving his body. There were several other mosquitoes starting to gather, seizing the opportunity to swarm the poor man and make a meal of him. Before they had a chance, the others were running to John's aid to chase the beasts away. They scattered, but didn't fly far before coming around for another pass, half a dozen more in their midst - they were too many to count. Those with thick armor would be alright so long as the creatures could not find any gaps through which to stick their needles, but those more lightly clothed would have to fight with their lives to protect their blood from these swarming vampires.

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#73 Burger Warrior

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 02:50 PM

After the entire group had returned to the campsite, just about everyone decided to continue onward. While Helga wasn’t happy with the decision, being ambushed by goblins in her sleep didn’t sound very good either, so she complied with the rest and began to trail after the rest of the party as they entered the swamp.

Soon after they entered Durnen realized she was both lucky and unlucky. Lucky in the fact that with her thick armor the bugs couldn’t get to her very easily at all, and with her helmet on she only to swat in front of her face to prevent them from sucking the blood from her nose. However, she was unlucky because it was quite warm, and her armor did nothing to alleviate her of that particular discomfort and she was short which made the strangely warm water much more dangerous for her than the other party members (besides Kragnar, of course). Luckily, she kept falling into pits at a minimum, and stayed close to Firebeard, helping him out whenever he got in a pinch.

Then another human got caught in a puddle, and giant mosquitoes flew out of nowhere for a taste of his blood. One of them finally got through his defenses, drinking deeply of the man’s life before being chased off by the nearest party members. However, the insects only retreated a short distance before coming around to attack the others. There were dozens, maybe hundreds of the things. Fortunately enough, Helga’s armor was thick enough to reply the attacks of any that tried to drink of her fiery blood, but as she repelled her opponents with surprisingly fast swings of her trusty hammer, she noticed that many of the others, being berserkers and mages, lacked the armor to simply ignore these monsters.

Among these lightly armored members was the other subhuman – the elf healer. While she was a mage and could probably use her magic to fend off the mosquitoes, there were a lot of giant blood-suckers. Making her way through the dwarf-knee-deep water with some difficulty, Durnen beat as many of the insects as she could away, using both hammer and shield crush her opponents as they swept around their prey.

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#74 Prattitude

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 04:05 PM

Arthur was quite alright with the welcoming warmth of the bog water, and in fact if it had not been for the mud or the eerie hissing that they heard here and there, he couldn't have thought of a more tranquil place, besides maybe the sea. He trotted along,, somewhat more at ease than before, until large shadows began to mill about in the tree line. It was only a few seconds before John went down and they began to swarm. Arthur had worked with John and was quite fond of the ranger, so at the sight of him taking a heavy blow, he knew he'd have to react.

There was a loud buzz from behind him, and he instinctively dropped just before a massive bug could skewer his head. He pulled out his saber as he knew that his javelin would be no use in this predicament. Unfortunately, moving about was quite difficult thanks to the muck and the monsters, so with a horrid look on his face he watched as no one moved to help John. With a grunt he flicked his saber out, catching one of the bug's legs and sending it whirling away as he rose to his feet.

"Everyone!" he shouted as he waded forward, slashing deftly with his cutlass, "converge on John! Fight as one and we may make it out of this!"

With another grunt he surged forward until he was as close to John as he could get. Stalwartly, the deft rogue waved his comrades around, beckoning them to him so that they could hold the threat at bay and buy himself some time to pull John free.

#75 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 12:40 PM

As they trekked on through the swamp, Kragnar stayed near Helga. He hadn't taken a liking to much anyone else besides the elf - from what he had seen, most everyone else here had an odd desire to dislike each other. Maybe it really was a thing about men, as he had joked about before. Of course, the others had returned alive from the evils of the bog, so they apparently weren't opposed to working together. What this group really needed was some good quiet time, Kragnar thought, and as much as the adventurous spirit in him loved to fight alongside his friends, he wished they were friends first. He wished they had gotten to rest.

Bah, who was he kidding? It was far better that they were moving. Hopefully they'd get to fight some true beings of evil soon. In particular he was thinking of Chaos races.

Once or twice he stumbled, slipped, or simply wasn't paying enough attention to his walking and ended up in a puddle of muck far too thick for him to escape on his own. Helga was always there to help him, along with his other companions, and he began to feel that this was much better than wasting time around a campfire. Whenever they assisted him, he always offered them hearty thanks - and he always tried to assist others when he could. In fact, he would scramble over himself trying to help.

"Grand, isn't it?" he said once as they were walking, addressing Helga, though he tried to keep his voice low. "Knowin' that we're gettin' ever closer to triumphin' over evil..."

The dismal swamp was beginning to dampen even Kragnar's spirit - but things suddenly became far worse.

The moment John was attacked, Kragnar rushed to his aid. With a mighty bellow, he charged for a mosquito, which fled when he and the others came near. Kragnar held his ground, keeping his shield before him and trying to make sure his back faced some of his companions. If one of the beasts tried to pierce his leather and chain - which he feared might be all too possible - he hoped at least one of the others would see it and come to his aid.

When the mosquitoes drew near again, Kragnar steeled himself and swung his axe, hoping to strike one down. This wasn't exactly the whole "fighting evil" he had hoped for, but these beasties certainly seemed determined to attack good folk. That meant they should be stopped, and he was all too eager for one to meet his steel.

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#76 Ryoma

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:24 AM

Jaysen had fallen into a muck pit. Twice. If the sinking didn't get ya, the stinking certainly would. Both times led him to growl and shake his head, reluctantly waiting for others to assist. Fortunately, they were more than willing to do so, and he found himself saved each time. Covered in muck but intact. If he smelled back before, he reeked now.

Every time he was pulled free, he made sure to check on his pots and pans. Fortunately, he had yet to lose any. He was glad of this, his pots and pans were among his prized possessions after all. He had no intention of losing them.

It wasn't long before a loud buzzing filled the air, echoing through his eardrums. A buzzing that was all too familiar. Jaysen had dealt with giant insects on numerous occasions. The buggers had a nasty habit of popping up when you least expected it. Real pains in the asses, they were.

One of their own fell in a pit, just as the giant insects (mosquitos, by the looks of it) swarmed over him. He was stabbed in the shoulder, letting out a blood-curdling cry of pain. Jaysen ran over to help, just as a swarm of bugs blasted into battle.

"I hate these bugs..." He growled, drawing his small knife. These bugs were quick, and had hard outer shells. Armor would help from piercing ya, but it slowed you down too much. There was only one way, Jaysen found, to be certain of a kill.

"Attack the eyes!" He yelled, loud for everyone to hear. "Get them in the eye sockets!"

As if to prove his point, a mosquito charged right at him. Jaysen was ready. The bug flew, his long nose aimed straight for him. Jaysen stood still, waiting as the bug moved. When it was close enough, Jaysen sidestepped just enough for the nose to miss. He then plunged his blade right into the creature's eye.

"Got ya, you little sucker!"

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#77 Bobafettmaniac

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 03:25 AM

Cradoc slopped through the mud, splattering brown sediment every where. As a mosquito flew towards him, he split it straight down the center, adding bug gore to his already muddy complexion. Sloshing over next to Karrel, he chuckled, "Compared to that troll back there, this is nothing! You fought well yourself, and I consider you a blade brother." Reaching his pack he produced a strip of dried meat and popped it in his mouth for a snack. He had not had much luck hunting earlier, and he hoped that they would settle someplace soon.

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#78 Horatius

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 04:02 AM

Karrel nodded in approval of Cradoc's words. He knew his axe would be too slow for the freakish bugs, so he drew the elvish sword. Its blade glimmered in the murky light as he swung it left and right amongst the mosquitoes. The northman hoped his thick furs would protect him from the creatures, but would not rely on that. "Keep moving!" he shouted. Get away from the swarm before it overwhelms us!" The warrior trudged through the swamp after Kurtz, eager to escape the deformed insects.

Then out spake brave Horatius,

The Captain of the Gate:

"To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late.

And how can man die better

Than facing fearful odds,

For the ashes of his fathers,

And the temples of his gods."

 


#79 Sareth

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 04:39 AM

As the giant mosquitoes attacked, Lynaia made her way over to Kragnar, and took up a back-to-back stance with him. "I'll cover your back if you cover mine," she called to him over her shoulder. Her hands twirled her staff, lashing out with it to swat any of the monstrous insects that got near her from the air.
"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#80 Oufy

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:19 AM

There was only one thing going through John's mind the moment the proboscis stabbed through his shoulder, sucking the blood so forceful he could feel the life draining from him.

I... hate... these gorram... mosquitoes.

Within a split second of being stabbed, he went for his dagger. He grabbed it while tolerating inconceivable pain, and attempted to cut off the long infamous proboscis which was the threat to his very life.

Edited by Ouflah-la-la, 02 January 2013 - 01:20 AM.

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